Please help me find a place to live temporarily in Austin, TX.
April 25, 2007 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find a place to live temporarily in Austin, TX.

In May I embark on a trip to TX. On the way I'll stay with friends, but when the trip ends I'd like to explore the city of Austin as a potential place to live when my current lease ends. I've been searching for house sits and sublets in Austin so that I may stay for a month or longer. In my search, I've concluded that there is a lot of inexpensive, temporary housing available at the end of May and early June. The problem is that I won't be in Austin until the very end of my trip and would like to secure a place before I arrive.

Let me preface this by saying that I've never been to TX. I've been told by clients, coworkers and friends that it's the kind of place I'd thoroughly enjoy, but having never been there, don't really know what to expect. My search has yielded that there are a lot of different neighborhoods, but sadly the names of the neighborhoods have little meaning to me. I'd like to find a place that is close enough to walk to entertainment, food, groceries, and other such things, but not smack dab in the middle of UT, nightlife, or a high crime area. I'm 34 years old, a self-employed IT worker, and definitely not looking for the party life. At the same time I also don't want to live too far away from places where I can get lost in a crowd of people in a cafe, local book store, or even a park.

What neighborhoods would you suggest I look into? What places might I avoid? Other than craigslist, what other websites might help me find the a month to month, roommate, or sublet situation? Thanks for your input.
posted by sequential to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I stayed at Sasona Co-Op when I was in Austin for a few days last year. It's a bit off the beaten path, but the people there are cool, and they'll let you stay there for very cheap for as long as you want in one of the spare rooms.
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2007

I think having all those luxuries within walking distance is kind of a tall order for Austin... it's very much built around auto travel and those things tend to be clustered in big box districts, except around UT and downtown which I think is where you said you didn't want to be. That said, I think some of the neighborhoods between UT and I-35 might fit the bill. Crackton is generally regarded as being about a mile directly east of downtown, but I can't say personally whether it lives up to its reputation; I've never felt in any personal danger when out and about in Austin.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:35 PM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: rolypolyman, I'm not opposed to living in a downtown environment. For a point of reference, when I lived in Boston I lived across the street from Fenway Park and loved it. The only thing I'd have changed is the 2:00 am drunken screaming outside of my window. I think it's fair to say I'd like to avoid living in the heart of UT, though.
posted by sequential at 9:46 PM on April 25, 2007

You can't live in the heart of UT unless you're in a dorm, so I'm not sure what that means. But if you're willing to live near the university (say, at least 12 blocks away), you might think of Hyde Park, which might be one of the few places that fit your other descriptions.

I think some of the neighborhoods between UT and I-35 might fit the bill

Huh? What neighborhoods are between UT and IH-35? The campus runs right up to the freeway and spills over onto the other side. The only thing between classroom buildings and the freeway are football fields and parking lots.
posted by grouse at 1:03 AM on April 26, 2007

Around the university is where you want to be. UT is a big place, as mentioned above you can't live in the middle of it without being in a dorm. I'm thinking 'around', as within 5 miles or so.

Hyde Park is close to what you're talking about. I don't know what the prices are like there now but back in the early 90s people were talking about the huge increase since the mid-80s. Every time I've gone back, the last time was about 3 years ago, I've heard the same. Still, university students find a way to live there, and that's what a large portion of your neighbors would be.

You can also drive up Guadalupe a couple of miles N of Hyde Park, and there's an area to the E of Mental Health/Mental Retardation and the facility for the blind that's OK. It will likely be a bit cheaper and quieter, with the same sort of houses (not too great) as Hyde Park. Sorry, I don't know its name.

Take a look around South Austin. This is your best bet. Go S down Congress until you get to around where the Continental Club is and start looking around.

Also, consider looking at the East Side, which has a concentration of lower class Black and Hispanic populations. Its got a reputation as the poor side of town but it's not as bad as it is played up. If you find an ad that sounds good, drive around the property a bit and check it out. There are sections there which are pretty safe, some of them have middle class property values. I and a couple of friends have all had good experiences (different occasions) living there. Property close to the university, or at least close to the freeway is more likely to be working instead of lower class. It's not a bad way to live close to downtown. But do check out the neighborhood, some areas have more unemployed young males wandering about, drinking in the afternoon, than others, if you know what I mean.

This post is short on names, but I think with a map you should be able to figure out the areas I'm talking about.
posted by BigSky at 5:51 AM on April 26, 2007

Places I would avoid:
-West Campus (though there are exceptions)
-East Austin around 51st/Manor (pronounced MAY-ner)/Springdale
-potentially S. Congress/S. Lamar/S. 1st north of Oltorf (getting very expensive)

Places I would check out:
-S. Congress/S. Lamar/S. 1st south of Oltorf
-Hyde Park
-the area west of Lamar on 45th/Medical area

I love Austin. I was raised in Houston, lived in Chicago for 4.5 years, and have now lived in Austin for 2 years, and if it weren't for all my family living in Texas I could live here forever. If you have any questions about what to see and do or anything else, feel free to email me.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

It sounds like what you want is either Hyde Park, or Barton Springs area.
I currently have a place in Barton Springs, for a pretty good rate (it's getting expensive, but it's still possible to find a good deal).

There are several co-ops off of S Lamar.

Have you checked Craigslist? Or posted an ad, looking for sublet? I know a lot of people who have found residence through there.

Hope you like the place! See about setting up a meetup when you're here. Austin's a great place.
posted by fnord at 7:08 AM on April 26, 2007

Response by poster: Regarding my desire not to be in the heart of UT, I simply meant I don't want to live in housing primarily composed of students unless it's a quiet neighborhood. In the various college towns I've lived in, this generally means living close to, but not directly adjacent to campus.

Regarding Craigslist, I do have an ad up looking for a sublet. I'm not looking for the whole summer, so we'll see how my ad goes, but I am also actively seeking sublets at the same time. Now that I have a list of places that might fit my needs, I can pursue a place in a more targeted fashion. There's a large number of places to sort through, so having a few neighborhood names makes this much easier.

Regarding the coops, I am definitely interested and looking into the ones that have been mentioned to me here and via email. I'm a little short on details on how they work, but I'm open to the idea, at least.
posted by sequential at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2007

Get a map of Austin, and a magic marker. Run your magic marker along the following lines:

Start at Mopac and 360, and run the mark east along 360 until it turns into Ben White/290/71, and keep going east until you hit IH-35. Run the marker north until you hit 2222. Run the marker west on 2222 until it hits MoPac. Run the marker south along MoPac until it meets your starting point. This is the largest box you're trying to live in. I've always lived outside it, but there's nothing like you're describing ever nearby.

There are places inside this box you cannot afford to live in in any situation other than roommate/sublet/house-sit/furnished garage.

The potentially crummiest areas of the box will be in the bottom. The area west of UT is "west campus", and is to be avoided. The area south of Town Lake ( may be the Colorado on your map) between 35 and Lamar, as far south as Oltorf, is where the beautiful people live. The housing there is quite expensive. The closer your house is to Congress, the more expensive. This is Travis Heights (78704).

Hyde Park is bordered by the UT campus on the south, IH-35 on the east, 51st street (very roughly) on the north, and Guadalupe on the west. Hyde Park is pricey, but you do see students renting here. North of Hyde Park is cheaper, and much hipper, IMHO.

The area boxed in by 35, Town Lake, MoPac, and 6th street is very urban, hip, and expensive. It encompasses some very desirable places to live, that may be knocked flat for condos by the time you call the rental agency.

North of 6th, west of Lamar, east of Mopac, up until 24th has some nifty little neighborhoods with cheap rent houses. There are apartments on 15th (Enfield) that may fit your bill. The closer to 24th you get, the more students you will find.

When I moved here, I rode my bike EVERYWHERE, and it really helped me learn the neighborhoods around central Austin. It's going to be pretty warm when you arrive, but it's worth doing a systematic survey with a map and a bike when you get here.

Please understand that the bus system here is terrible. Don't get some outlier apartment and tell yourself that you'll take the bus out clubbin' or something. In TX, public transportation is seen as a commie conspiracy to take away our pickup trucks and our guns and make us learn French and drive battery-powered cars.
posted by popechunk at 8:12 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Huh? What neighborhoods are between UT and IH-35? The campus runs right up to the freeway and spills over onto the other side. The only thing between classroom buildings and the freeway are football fields and parking lots.

French Place.
posted by kiita at 9:06 AM on April 26, 2007

French Place.

French Place isn't between UT and IH-35. It's on the other side of the freeway. Saying it is between UT and IH-35 is like saying that the letter S is between P and Q in the alphabet.
posted by grouse at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2007

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